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MLS

MLS transfer news: Christian ‘Chicho’ Arango and Teemu Pukki set to make debuts this weekend

The MLS’ Secondary Transfer Window got underway this week with two experienced goal scorers joining from overseas.

Update:
Arango and Pukki set for MLS debuts

Much of the MLS transfer focus in recent weeks has been on the madness in Miami, but there is plenty more going on in the league’s Secondary Transfer Window.

The transfer period began on 5 July and clubs across country are looking to bolster their squads for the remainder of the season. Two of the shrewdest deals announced so far involve proven goal scorers entering the league from overseas, and both look set to make their debuts this weekend.

Last month Real Salt Lake announced the signing of Christian ‘Chicho’ Arango from Mexican side Pachuca. That was followed by Minnesota United’s move for Teemu Pukki, who has an impressive scoring record in English football.

Their arrivals could be key for two teams looking to push on in the remainder of the season. Real Salt Lake will hope that Arango can turn them into genuine contenders for the MLS Cup, while Pukki is tasked with adding cutting edge to a Minnesota side who have struggled for goals this year.

Here’s what fans of the two clubs can expect from their new signings...

MLS Cup winner Arango returns to the league

At 28 years old, Arango has already enjoyed a storied career in football with considerable success. The Medellin-born forward came through the ranks at Colombian side Envigado before stints in Europe with Valencia B and Benfica. He returned to Colombia with Millonarios in 2019 and impressed back in his home country.

In the summer of 2021 he moved to LAFC and had an immediate impact, scoring 14 goals in 17 league games. The following season he continued that good form and was part of the team that lifted the MLS Cup in 2022. After that success he moved to Mexican side Pachuca at the start of 2023 but now returns to MLS with Real Salt Lake.

Arabia Saudita intenta el fichaje del colombiano Cristian ‘Chicho’ Arango de LAFC
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Arango started for LAFC in last season's extraordinary MLS Cup final triumph.JAVIER ROJAS/EFEEFE

Having already lifted the league’s top prize his ambitions are high for his second stint in MLS. He is expected to make his debut against New York City FC on 8 July and is determined to propel the side into title-winning contention.

I want a title this season, not next season,” said Arango at his unveiling. “I think we have a good team here, we have the experience, there’s honestly no excuse.”

Pukki touted as “biggest signing” in Minnesota history

After years of overachievement, Minnesota United appear to have gone backwards under head coach Adrian Heath this season. The Englishman has been in charge since the team’s inaugural season in 2017 and has taken them to the playoff in each of the last four seasons.

This year, however, Minnesota are down in 11th after 19 matches, with one of the worst offensive records in the Western Conference. To kickstart their season, United have brought an experienced goal scoring into the fold.

Pukki may be 33 but he joins the team after an impressive five-year spell with English side Norwich City. During his time with the Canaries he has twice reached the 25-goal mark in the second tier, and was the team’s top goalscorer during two stints in the Premier League.

With goals clearly an issue, Minnesota technical director Mark Watson described Pukki as “the biggest signing in club history.

Teemu Pukki is now Finland's record scorer after overtaking Ajax legend Jari Litmanen earlier this year.
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Teemu Pukki is now Finland's record scorer after overtaking Ajax legend Jari Litmanen earlier this year.DeFodi ImagesDeFodi Images via Getty Images

That was a sentiment shared by Heath, who is clearly looking forward to working with Finland’s all-time record goal scorer.

“If you look at his record he’s scored at a high level at every team he’s played for,” Heath said of Pukki. “His goalscoring record in the Premier League, the Championship and the Finnish National Team speaks for itself.”

Pukki is also expected to make his debut this weekend, when Minnesota host Austin FC on 8 July.